Thursday, January 14, 2016

Blog: Kashmiriyat - her own flesh and blood!

Kashmiriyat - her own flesh and blood! Pointing her finger at a picture hanging against a wall in her house, an octogenarian woman started her candid conversation with deep sighs, sometimes, and being a flawless narrator of tales at other times. Kheer Bhawani - as told by the lady was the poster - which took me and my friend to the 'heaven on earth' - Kashmir. Nurturing a keen desire to always converse and engage with and learn from sexagenarians and above, a sudden encounter amidst this hustle-bustle of metro life, I found solace and pain simultaneously in this fading fighter's voice. Solace - for I could share a little of her being, the feelings which are still her very life, and pain for the wounds which are still very fresh inside her flesh. Gradually as she could extend her heart to me, I paid heed to her words like a kid listens to tales in a mother's lap. And pain – for I could feel what she must have undergone. Kheer Bhawani is a Hindu temple and 'isht' for the Kashmiri Pandits, located in Tulmulla area in Kashmir valley. Spread over a vast land, the temple is as holy for Muslims as it is for Hindus. “When it comes to following the rituals and prohibitions of the temple, Muslims follow it more religiously,” tells the octogenarian. One can easily witness the cultural mix of the Sindh civilization and contemporary times. ‘Life is a bandwagon of several colors' is what this fading beauty told me. And I, myself being a keen kid of life, always seek life whatever way it comes in. Every single moment for me was as if it can't be framed in my heart again – “so don't even blink your eye, not even let your heart go close,” was the call of the few precious moments this 'buzurg' provided us. She went on flawlessly touching every nook and corner of her life, as we provoked her unfolding narration being keen listeners. Her murmuring tale touched the royal heydays era when everything around used to nurture life with a fresh zeal. Palatial houses, vast fruit estates, luxury cars, mammoth dry fruits produce and prosperous life – these were a few luxury possessions this fading Kashmiri lady enjoyed being at her homeland, Kashmir. As told by the old lady, her husband was an eminent journalist. Being so prominent in his profession, she tells us, he was respected equally by friends and foes. Walking down the memory lane, she shared with much ado an incident where in one of the marriages at her home saw both militants and government officials attending the event simultaneously. "It was a daily affair to meet the hardliners, radicals and militants, but we were never fearful as they never caused us any trouble," said the lady. All communities and religions used to gel up so well that it seemed as if they were brothers and sisters. With a broken heart, whose pain I may say I could feel, but actually it is 10,000 times more than what merely 'I can feel' sounds like, she shares her salad days with us. "We had a palatial house, climate used to be at its best. The backyard was always over-heaped with dry fruits and our life was a best shot frame after frame,” she said. Still today - when she knows well it's only a memory now - she boasts of her premier possessions, amongst which she talked about her mats the most. Though that pain is still residing there, though she has not forgotten anything as if it happened yesterday only, though her pain is extremely excruciating, she has reluctantly enforced her psyche to admit that Delhi is her abode now and was always. She carries a tormenting grudge - not against people who enforced it at her, nor anybody else, but for the traffic, polluted air and haphazardness of the over-crowded Delhi (might have compared it with everything in Kashmir). When asked about the people there, back home (which was hers at some point in time), she still is in touch with the local residents, who used to be her neighbours once. Many of them, she recalls, call her back home and even take care of her home and belongings as well. She has that all which still can't be claimed to be hers and with an unwilling 'NO' to go back, she has no logical reason for it. Refusing to share any greater details about who were responsible for all this, the lady signs off with a deep gasp, saying - it all happened! She misses that fragrant air of her very own homeland today - the valley extremely blessed with all the possible good things, but simultaneously has made herself understand the reality of life today. A deep gasp again and she starts walking towards the door right in front. Leaving it at a note where I could neither be completely speechless nor say anything, it was only my expressions which responded to her all of a sudden moves. Bidding adieu to her, as I was sure to be lost in this fast-paced life again, but it made me contemplate excessively about life. It was a night different all together and I could not rest well. Having an intense urge to do something, I planned to weave her painful story in words. As a result, I too will sign off as I am done with what I felt like doing for this octogenarian.

Blog: You can kill a body, not the voice

Flipping through various sections of my daily newspaper, my eyes initially popped out and eventually halted, as the identical twins raced through a buzzing headline which read: 'Pak lesbian couple tie knot amidst threats'. And instantly my mind generated a question for a handful of incorrigible fools - can they kill their heartbeat now? They can kill the body, but not the heart, nor even the soul, as love will always pervade and evade any territory irrespective of any religion or boundary. I must bring to the fore the real intent of the write-up for those who may take it otherwise. Pointing out finger on any country or religion is not the context. The concern is the game between moral and immoral, fundamentalism and liberty, laden or willingly taken, and on top it - it is always a tussle between love and hatred. Who wins is the call. Love and hatred reminds me of talented Shoaib Mansoor, who staying in a terrain where life keeps no certainty and where a few fundamentalists are decision-makers, he has the guts to prove his mettle. He has been instrumental in proving that love always wins. Not only this, he is the bellwether who spearheads the way for countless generations to believe and do what is right, which their hearts liberate them to initiate. Amidst devils, Shoaib Mansoor has the guts to show what can be done, which needs to be done. His two films - 'Khuda ke liye' and 'Bol' can be counted among the outstanding narrative tales in the celluloid, which not only educate scores, but also discard the adulteration/ artificial manipulation in what can be called - a blind faith. While ‘Khuda Ke Liye’ deals with not to get lost in the name of religion and to establish the fundamental right of making one's own choices in life, Bol deals with breaking the old mold of fundamentalism - wrong beliefs, which come at the cost of numerous lives. The flick establishes how important is it to raise one's voice against the surreal or baseless concepts, which have spread its tentacles far and wide in society. I make no bones in saying hats off to this man of courage and guts, who contributes uniquely in his own way to leave a mark. He may be a bete noire for these few, but he exemplifies his chivalry to legions by leading them towards that shining light. And eventually his work proves, which becomes Waterloo for such human folly. He proves the proverb: 'Action speaks louder than words'. The movie, KKL discards the thought that the religion doesn't permit music, and which is what happens as a creamy crop of artists and singers from our neighbouring nation, has found a bright career for them in India's tinsel town. While those who want to mum voices on gunpoint may feel they emerge as triumphant for whatever wrong they believe in - people like Mansoor are a blunt answer to their credo – “Establishing their supremacy at gunpoint.” Likewise, this lady from Bangladesh lives to say and write what she believes is right. She has been expelled from her homeland as she raised her voice in her words against male-dominated society. Criticized, ridiculed, harassed and threatened for her thoughts, Tasleema Nasrin has been the target of this 'society's life contractors'. Though facing extreme trials and tribulations, moving from one place to another, like nomads, she still wears her heart on her sleeves for what her heart feels. Her counterpart, Salman Rushdie also faces such wrath at times and fatwas on other occasions for being outspoken and writing against what feels is a set of immoral laws. I too will proclaim in my closing note: Truth and right will find its way in the end. I want these figures among ciphers to understand - that threatening will not stop the voices from saying what is right, what one's heart says, what needs to be brought to the light. Like Nasrin, Mansoor and Rushdie, who haven't stopped irrespective of numerous threats to their lives, there are countless such people of courage but as I have to sign off, so can't name them all. The sooner they (fundamentalists) will understand, the better it is: Bodies can be killed, but not the voices.